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Family breakdown costs the taxpayer £1,364 every year

Tim Montgomerie

For those libertarians who say politicians should not take any interest in family structure, today's third Annual Cost of Family Breakdown Index from the Relationships Foundation should provide pause for thought.

The Cambridge-based Foundation estimates that the total annual cost is £41.74 billion or £1,364 for every taxpayer. A full copy of the report and background to the calculations can be found here.

FAMILY The RF report and a speech by Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, are timed for this week's National Marriage Week. Mr Duncan Smith will make the following main points:

Marriage must not be a taboo institution: “Over the years the political establishment has frowned if a mainstream politician mentions marriage. The prevailing view was that to extol the virtues of this most fundamental institution somehow meant that you were going to stigmatise those who were not married. This is an absurd and damaging assumption... “Today through our celebrity focussed media we give awards to so many different groups. Film stars, soap stars, pop stars and football stars. We extol the virtue of public institutions and private business and we even give awards to politicians. Yet the most basic institution, which nurtures each generation and from which so many of us draw our strength and purpose, goes unnoticed and unrewarded. Fashionably dismissed or taken for granted the commitment of two people to put selfish interest to one side for the sake of each other and the children they raise is simply the very best of us as human beings. Furthermore, marriage is perhaps the best antidote to the celebrity self obsessed culture we live in, for it is about understanding that our true value is lastingly expressed through the lives of others we commit to.”

The human cost of family breakdown is more important than the financial cost: “Government must understand the effect that family breakdown can have on the wellbeing of both adults and children. The financial costs of family breakdown are incredibly high. But what is most painful to see is the human cost – the wasted potential, the anti-social behaviour, and the low self-esteem.”

We encourage the aspiration to learn and save, why not, also, the popular aspiration to marry?: “When asked about their aspirations, young people are very clear that they want to marry. So we have to ask ourselves: if people from the youngest age aspire to make such a commitment in their lives, what stops them doing so?”

Low-earner couples are penalised when they live together: “Research by the Centre for Social Justice has found that a majority of people out of work or in part-time work think low-earning and unemployed people are better off living apart than as a couple. Only those with money say that money has no bearing on whether people stay together.”

Investing in relationship education: “Government cannot and should not try to lecture people or push them on this matter, but it is quite legitimate to ensure people have the opportunity to achieve their aspirations. That is why we are investing £30m in relationship support and are committed to reducing the couple penalty.”

See reports in The Mail and Express.

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